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Are Lane Splitting & Lane Filtering Legal in New York

Posted in New York on November 4, 2022

Are Lane Splitting & Lane Filtering Legal in New York?

Before determining whether lane splitting and filtering are legal in New York, it helps to understand what we mean by these terms. Both terms refer to maneuvers made by a motorcyclist in traffic. However, the terms describe two different scenarios.

Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist weaves between moving traffic at a higher rate of speed. It is also called white lining. The rider passes the vehicles in both lanes but drives “on the white line” between the vehicles.

On the other hand, lane filtering occurs when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of slower-moving traffic or traffic that is stopped. For example, a rider may move ahead in a traffic jam by riding between two lanes of vehicles.

Is Lane Splitting or Lane Filtering Safe?

There is a great deal of debate about whether lane splitting and lane filtering are safe. A study published by the University of California Berkley in May 2015 suggests that lane splitting may be safe for motorcyclists.

However, there are risks. For example, a motorcyclist could be pinned between vehicles as a vehicle changes lanes. Drivers might see the motorcycle and overcorrect for fear of hitting the rider, thereby causing a car accident.

Regardless of how you feel about the matter, the maneuvers are not permitted in New York.

Is Lane Filtering or Lane Splitting Legal in New York?

Currently, California is the only state that has enacted a law specifically making lane splitting legal. On the other hand, New York’s traffic laws prohibit lane splitting and lane filtering by motorcyclists.

According to New York Vehicle & Traffic §1252, motorcycles have the right to use an entire lane for travel. Other vehicles are prohibited from engaging in maneuvers that would deprive motorcycles of the full use of the lane.

However, the statute specifically prohibits motorcyclists from:

  • Operating a motorcycle between the lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows or lines of traffic
  • Overtaking and passing a vehicle in the same lane occupied by the vehicle
  • Driving a motorcycle with more than one other motorcycle in the same line side-by-side

Therefore, lane filtering and lane splitting are prohibited in New York. One exception is that this law does not apply to police officers performing their duties.

Damages a Motorcyclist Could Receive for an Accident Claim

When a motorcyclist is injured in a traffic accident, the rider can sue the at-fault driver to recover compensation for damages. The damages can include non-economic and economic damages such as:

  • The cost of medical treatment and care
  • Pain and suffering
  • The loss of income, wages, and benefits
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement, scarring, disability, and impairment
  • The cost of personal and nursing care
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life and a decrease in quality of life
  • Diminished earning potential
  • Out-of-pocket expenses

Before the rider can recover compensation for their claim, they must prove the other driver caused the accident. Proving causation and fault can be challenging. However, once you establish negligence, the person who caused the accident can be held liable for damages.

Unfortunately, motorcyclists are often blamed for accidents they did not cause. Insurance companies use the unfair and unfounded stereotype of motorcyclists as being especially reckless to undervalue a claim.

How Does Contributory Fault Affect How Much You Receive for Damages?

Lane filtering and lane splitting could be used against a motorcyclist to allege the rider contributed to the cause of the crash. The defense could also allege the rider’s actions were the sole reason for the accident, meaning the rider receives nothing for their claim.

When an insurance company shifts blame for the cause of the accident, they allege that the victim is partially at fault for causing the crash. If the insurance company successfully argues this defense in court, a jury could find against the motorcyclist regarding contributory fault.

Suppose you were passing a vehicle stopped in traffic when your crash occurred. The jurors determine your conduct contributed to the cause of the accident. Accordingly, they assign you a contributory fault rate of 20%.

Then, the jurors consider your damages and award you $400,000. You would not receive the total amount awarded for damages. Because you were partially to blame, your compensation is reduced by your level of fault (in this example, 20%).

Therefore, you would only receive $320,000 (the total award less 20% for your fault). Motorcyclists are often blamed for accidents they did not cause.

For that reason, allowing a New York motorcycle accident lawyer to handle your case is best. An attorney advises what steps to take to protect yourself. Your lawyer also diligently works on your case until he is satisfied your case is ready for a court hearing.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in New York, NY

If you need legal assistance, contact the New York City car accident lawyers at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #1605
New York, NY 10123
(212) 564-2800

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242
(718) 802-1600

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